“Why Am I Anxious for No Reason?” Recognizing and Treating an Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety is not uncommon. In fact, it’s the most common mental illness in U.S. adults. Still, many of us walk around wondering, “why am I anxious for no reason?” Anxiety is the most frustrating when it seems to come out of nowhere, for no reason. If you’re asking yourself, “how do I know when my anxiety needs treatment?”, you’re probably at the point when talking to a therapist could help a lot. You don’t have to struggle with anxiety; it’s entirely treatable. So get help today.
Laura was worried all the time and she didn’t know why. Her job was going great, she had a good relationship with her boyfriend, and had a close circle of friends. Still, she was always restless and watchful, and a feeling of dread followed her everywhere she went. Driving on the highway was the worst of all. One evening she was driving home when she was startled by a police car turning on its lights and sirens behind her. Her heart raced, her palms were sweaty, and the steering wheel was hard to hold on to. She was sure she was going to die. But she put on her hazard lights and managed to pull onto the shoulder as the police car passed her by. She had a full-blown panic attack right there—and vowed never to drive on the highway again.
Her mother told her to try talking to a therapist. After a few sessions, the therapist got Laura to remember the first time she had anxiety—it happened while driving home from a friend’s funeral.
“Everything in my life is going fine,” Laura said. “Why would I start remembering this now?”
“That’s exactly why,” the therapist said. “You’re in a safe position in life, so unresolved feelings start to bubble up. It’s like our bodies know we can now handle facing them. But we feel attacked, anxious, or in danger, even though we are actually safe and sound.”
Perplexed but encouraged, Laura started going to therapy twice a week and got a prescription for anti-anxiety medication. She was determined to get to the bottom of her mysterious anxiety that seemed to come and go without cause.
Anxiety Is Not Uncommon
Anxiety is scary. It gnaws at you wherever you go, sapping the joy out of life. You could be safe at home with your family and still feel it; a constant worry buzzing in the back of your mind that can grow into panic. It can make your most important tasks feel impossible. Who can work, drive a car, or care for children when they can only focus on their intense feelings of fear? It’s even worse when you have no idea why you’re anxious. If you can’t understand it, how can you explain it to your family, friends, or co-workers? Anxiety can make you feel isolated, and no one should have to go through a scary time alone.
If you’re experiencing anxiety, you’ve got company. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in our country, afflicting about 40 million adults a year. And although effective treatment is available, only 36.9% of sufferers are treated. People may feel embarrassed about admitting that they’re anxious. They may be dismissive of their anxiety. Or, they may not be aware that frequent anxiety is a mental health problem. But awareness of your anxiety is the first step in getting treatment for it—and in understanding its causes.
Why Am I Anxious for No Reason?
Anxiety can be caused by a variety of things: stress, genetics, brain chemistry, traumatic events, or environmental factors. Symptoms can be reduced with anti-anxiety medication. But even with medication, people may still experience some anxiety or even panic attacks. The best treatment combines medication with therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. If the anxiety is rooted in trauma, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) may be the best course.
Anxiety usually has a trigger—an event or thought that provokes an anxious response. However, most people aren’t aware of their triggers, and believe they have become anxious for no reason. As human beings evolved, our species developed an instinctual response to danger, known as “fight, flight, or freeze”. The sympathetic nervous system makes our bodies and minds react quickly when we are in danger, and we may choose to stand and fight, run away, or stay totally still as if playing dead, known as the “freeze” response.
Our anxiety, or fear, evolved as an alarm bell to move us into life-saving action. In our modern world, we encounter conflicts that aren’t actually life-threatening. But our nervous system doesn’t know this, and so we can react to a variety of stimuli with the fight, flight, or freeze response, even when it is inappropriate. Add this to the fact that anxiety can also cause confusion or disassociation, and you can see why the exact causes of your anxiety are often so hard to pin down.
How Do I Know When My Anxiety Needs Treatment?
Any time a mental health issue such as anxiety gets so far out of hand that it disrupts your daily life, it’s time to get help. Especially if one or more symptoms cause you a lot of distress and worry, you should seek treatment before your symptoms get worse.
Most mental health disorders exist on a spectrum. For some people, symptoms are less severe and respond well to outpatient treatment. But for many others, it’s going to take intensive treatment to make headways into recovery. Particularly if you’ve tried outpatient therapy and it hasn’t worked, residential treatment could be your best option.
But how do you know when your anxiety is severe and lasting enough to qualify as an actual disorder? It’s impossible to pinpoint without a clinician, but you can learn to spot the same signs a clinician would look for.
Your anxiety may qualify as a disorder if any of the following symptoms occur:
- Worrying excessively about many things at once, possibly shifting often between different topics
- Feeling anxious for six or more months at a time
- Feeling “out of control” or like you can’t handle the stress of your anxiety
And, the anxiety occurs with at least three of these symptoms:
- Restlessness or irritability
- Feeling fatigued often or getting tired easily
- Difficulty concentrating or “blanking out” on thoughts and ideas
- Sore or achy muscles
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Wherever and whenever you decide to seek treatment, don’t feel ashamed, don’t be afraid, and don’t give up. You are doing the right thing by getting help with your anxiety. And one day soon, your courage will pay off when you begin to overcome your anxiety and start feeling more in control of your life.
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Overcoming Anxiety with Proper Treatment
Residential treatment is an excellent way to get the care you need for your anxiety, both in terms of healing its causes and learning how to cope with the disorder. There are many different anxiety disorders, and a good residential program will begin with an initial evaluation and an accurate diagnosis, which is key to sustainable recovery. They will give you comprehensive treatment—not just for your anxiety, but any co-occurring disorders that may be present. Residential clinicians will delve into the root causes and triggers of your anxiety, and zero in on the areas where healing work must be done.
You’ll receive 24-hour care at a residential treatment facility. That means if you have a panic attack at any time, day or night, there will be someone there to support you through it. You’ll receive medication from a psychiatrist to help ease your symptoms. And if you’re currently on medication, the doctor can adjust it until you’re feeling better. You’ll never alone, as you’ll be in a community of people who, like you, are struggling with anxiety and other challenges. And you’ll be in a pristine healing environment, far away from the situations, people, or places that may have been making your anxiety worse. In short, a residential treatment facility is a soothing, safe place to heal where you can build up your confidence and learn the coping mechanisms necessary to manage and live beyond the boundaries set by your anxiety.
Get Help for Your Anxiety Today
People like Laura recover from anxiety every day. She’s learned in therapy how to identify the causes of her anxiety and has made excellent progress. Her recovery is also proof of how you too can heal from the endless burden of anxiety. Her story shows that people can move past their anxiety and go on to lead full, and happy lives. Even if it doesn’t feel that way now, things can get better for you with time, patience, and appropriate care.
To make that happen, you need to start working with a mental health professional right away. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can begin to put your fears behind you and build the life you long for. It’s time to overcome your fears. It may be hard to imagine now, but one day you will start to feel happy, confident, and safe once again.
Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive residential treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Los Angeles and San Diego-based programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward healing.